Government must come up with a clear policy and a sustainable strategy for effective implementation of the 2013 budget, says Non Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) chairperson Beatrice Grillo
And NGOCC has said that the theme for the budget ‘delivering inclusive development and social justice’ with a focus on expanding opportunities for all and ensuring the equitable distribution of the tangible benefits of development, was out of line because some of the relevant issues were not addressed.
Ms Grillo said development could be inclusive and reduce poverty only if all groups of people contributed to creating opportunities and shared the benefits of development.
She said the 2013 national budget had not addressed the issue of broadening the tax base as Pay As You Earn and Value Added Tax (VAT) had continued to be the major contributors at about 5% and 6% respectively in comparison to 1.9% contribution by the mines through mineral royalty.
Ms Grillo said NGOCC noted that foreign financing in this year’s budget had reduced to 18.4% from 30% in the 2012 national budget and implies that 81.6% was coming from domestic financing mainly through PAYE and VAT which further burdened the already over taxed common person.
“The 2013 budget theme is pro-poor; however, the deliverables in terms of the revenue and expenditure are not reflective of a pro-poor budget such as the continued overwhelming contribution by Pay As You Earn and VAT to the budget revenue in comparison to the mainstay of the economy that is the mining sector.
“ And we expected the reintroduction of the Wind Fall Tax and taxing the informal sector would be a major contributor to the revenue.”
Ms Grillo however said even though there was an increment in the health sector funding from 9.3% in 2012 to 11.3% in 2013, it was also important to note that planning and allocating fewer resources to the health sector would not adequately address access to good health services and reduce maternal and child mortality in the country.
“Zambia’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) which stands at 591 deaths per 100,000 live births shows an even worse condition and is unacceptable. These figures show that Zambia is far from reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) of reducing maternal mortality to 162 deaths per 100 000 births by the year 2015.
Ms Grillo therefore said though the 2013 budget was welcome, there was need for government to put in place mechanisms to ensure the consideration of the majority.
“Government must come up with clear policies and sustainable strategies to protect and promote the livelihoods and welfare of people suffering from critical levels of poverty so that they realise the benefit.”
According to NGOCC Gender Budgeting Team analysis, “social justice can be looked at as the fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion are to be treated equally and without prejudice.”